Wednesday, September 10, 2014

My Estonian Grandmother--found!

Through the wonders of the Internet and my sister's research through a genealogy service called Geni, we found my grandmother, my father's mother and more information about my family.

My grandmother's name is: Emielie Natalie Kullerkupp, born in Estonia, as was her husband Anton P. Kullerkupp.  My father's name was Albert Allan Kullerkupp and he was born in Moscow in 1902.  There are many, many, Kullerkupps in Estonia and we are finding many relatives through my grandmother's siblings.
Notice how much was not correct, father not Austrian, but Estonian. Names were close, but not accurate, and more.
  This was written on December 7, 2013

Christmas, more than other holidays, brings on so much nostalgia, especially memories of our parents.  My sister and I lost our parents when we were 19, and 26 respectively.  They died within a year and a half of each other.  Although we knew quite a bit about our mother's background, we knew very little about my father's.

I noticed I have a few Estonian readers of this blog and I thought I would write what little I know about my Estonian grandmother.  

When emigres came to the United States, especially in the late 20's, early 30's, many of them wanted to keep their past secret for many reasons: to avoid reprisals, wanting to start fresh, and with new names, after cutting off all ties with regimes that were at the very least, not friendly.

I think my grandmother's name was Mildred or Marina and her last name I heard was Neurman, but I believe she marred again, so this was not my father's last name.  Her last name could have been Kueller.

She was born in Estonia in 1886 and married an Austrian.  They were divorced when my father was five and I think my father went to live with his father who lived in Moscow.  And perhaps he lived part of the time with my grandmother as well.  But I do know he went to school in Moscow, a gymnasium, they were called.  My grandfather had something to do with the Trans-Siberian railway; we have few real facts.  My father changed his name before I was born to Allan French, but his first name was Alexander.

Later, much later, after the Russian Revolution, and a few intervening years spent in Paris, my father came to the United States.  His mother followed later; the 1930 US census, lists her as living in New York with my mother and father.  I do remember that we were told she died of cancer in New York City. It was interesting as he changed my grandmother's name to Millie French.

I know this photograph was taken in Parnu, Estonia, and from the dress, perhaps in 1918 or when dresses were still long, but shoes and hose showed.

I have no photos of my grandfather as his picture was cut out of the few family photos we have.

So, the mystery remains and will probably remain.  I send her picture out in cyberspace in memory of a grandmother my sister and I never knew.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Art of the Epigraph

Ah, the art of the epigraph, that tantalizing bit of writing that is used by many authors to introduce their story, not always fiction.  What is interesting about these epigraphs, is that you are left with a puzzle, why did the authors choose those specific words?  And, as you read their words the authors' intentions are not always clear.

Any bit of writing is used--from the Bible, songs, poetry, politics, opera, Shakespeare and sometimes it is made up by the author to appear to be some well-known writing, but the epigraph is fiction as well, as F. Scott Fitzgerald's introduction to The Great Gatsby written by "Thomas Park D'Invilliers, who was not a poet, as Fitzgerald implied, but a character from another of his novels.

One of my favorites, and there are many, is from Ernest Hemingway in his novel, The Snows of Kilimanjaro,
Kilimanjaro is a snow covered mountain 19,710 feet high, and it is said to be the highest mountain in Africa. Its western summit is called the Masai “Nghe Nghe”, the House of God. Close to the western summit there is the dried and frozen carcass of a leopard. No one has explained what the leopard was seeking at that altitude. (Hemingway, Kilimanjaro, 

A line from Pablo Neruda's poetry, the famous, XX, would be a terrific epigraph to a story about unrequited love, passion, or even something dark.

"Tonight I write the saddest lines, I loved her and sometimes she loved me too."  

What is your favorite?

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Pot/Marijuana legalized in Colorado--a very bad idea

Here in Colorado, my beautiful adopted state, something occurred that was not so beautiful -- the voters legalized pot.  The ramifications of this are surfacing every day.  

How did this happen?  Here in Colorado we have something called a ballot initiative, where anyone can place on the ballot a proposition as long as there are a required number of signatures. So one of the initiatives that was on the ballot was to legalize pot.  I remember thinking, this will never pass, but it did.  Why?  Follow the money, always.

There are huge profits to be made from the growers, yes we also get taxes that go to the state--somewhere.  And I am not objecting to medical marijuana which helps many with seizures and pain control, especially in cancer patients.  My mother who died of pancreatic cancer and had intense nausea and pain would have been helped.

No, I am talking about recreational marijuana.  Now it is being added to food and candy and the whole attitude is one of frivolity and being a kind of new food or wine. In Colorado, a few months ago,  one of the catering companies offered catered dinner parties where selected foods would be served that complemented marijuana--but bring your own stash. Oh so chi, chi. 

Unfortunately, the new strains of marijuana are up to five times stronger than what was available in the '60s.  In Colorado the THC levels for recreational pot is 20% or higher.  With these higher percentages, there are increased health risks.  At least two deaths in Colorado are attributed to marijuana which was consumed in edible form.  One man shot his wife after eating marijuana candy, and the other committed suicide after consuming cookies containing large amounts of marijuana.

The worst effect is that teenagers who become addicted consuming the "new" pot affect their IQ and cause irreversible damage to their brain.  The brains of teenagers are still developing so this is a real risk; their adulthood will be seriously impaired as they become addicted.

But Americans do not see this as a public health menace which it is.  There is so much misinformation and a disconnect between public opinion and science. In March a Wall Street Journal and NBC poll, Americans viewed sugar as more dangerous than marijuana.

When a society cares more about its pleasures than its children, we are in trouble.

Reference:  Wall Street Journal, "Legal Pot is a Menace." August 14, 2014